• #### MT VOID, 11/19/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 21, Whole Number 2198

From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Nov 14 06:39:05 2021
THE MT VOID
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/19/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 21, Whole Number 2198

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, mleeper@optonline.net
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, eleeper@optonline.net
All material is the opinion of the author and is copyrighted by the
author unless otherwise noted.
All comments sent or posted will be assumed authorized for
inclusion unless otherwise noted.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, send mail to eleeper@optonline.net
The latest issue is at <http://www.leepers.us/mtvoid/latest.htm>.
An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at <http://leepers.us/mtvoid/back_issues.htm>.

Topics:
"Pythy" Puzzle Solution (puzzle by Tom Russell)
Bond Songs (Part 6) (THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, DIE ANOTHER DAY,
CASINO ROYALE ("You Know My Name")) (comments
by Mark R. Leeper)
WORTH (film review by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
by Evelyn C. Leeper)

===================================================================

TOPIC: "Pythy" Puzzle Solution (puzzle by Tom Russell)

Last week we gave the puzzle:

The sides of a certain right triangle are all of integer length.
The shortest side is 7. What are the other two sides? [-tlr]

This week we give the answer:

24 and 25.

(The trick is realizing that the three sides are 7, x, and y, and
7^2 + x^2 = y^2. This is the same as 49 = y^2 - x^2.

But y^2 - x^2 is (y-x)(y+x), and the only factors of 49 are
1 and 49. So we want two consecutive numbers (since y-x=1) whose
sum is 49; these are 24 and 25. [-ecl]

===================================================================

TOPIC: Bond Songs (Part 6) (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

If you are just coming in on this, I am making comments on the
title songs from the Bond films.

First this week is THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH.

I know how to hurt
I know how to heal
I know what to show
And what to conceal

{My understanding is that this song was written to be
performed at a plumbers' convention as the Saturday night
entertainment.}

I know when to talk
And I know when to touch
No one ever died
From wanting too much

{My plumber came close.}

The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love

{I figure starting on the tiling over the toilet.}

People like us
Know how to survive
There's no point in living
If you can't feel alive

{It's the customer we feels the pain.}

We know when to kiss

{(and what)}

And we know when to kill,
If we can't have it all
Then nobody will

The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love

{I think we are missing about 30,000 screws from when we took
apart Canada alone. If you see some, hold onto them.}

I feel safe
I feel scared
And yet unprepared

{You don't know what you're feeling.}

The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love

The world is not enough
The world is not enough
Nowhere near enough
The world is not enough

Then comes DIE ANOTHER DAY.

I'm gonna wake up, yes and no

{Suit yourself.}

I'm gonna kiss some part of...

{Yeah, don't finish that thought, please.}

I'm gonna keep this secret
I'm gonna close my body now

I guess I die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I die another day

{Don't keep putting it off. And let me check my calendar.}

I guess I'll die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I'll die another day

Sigmund Freud
Analyze this
Analyze this
Analyze this...

I'm gonna break the cycle
I'm gonna shake up the system
I'm gonna destroy my ego
I'm gonna close my body now

{Would you like a cork?}
?
I think I'll find another way
There's so much more to know
I guess I'll die another day
It's not my time to go

For every sin I'll have to pay
I've come to work, I've come to play
I think I'll find another way
It's not my time to go

I'm gonna avoid the cliche
I'm gonna suspend my senses
I'm gonna delay my pleasure
I'm gonna close my body now

I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day

I think I'll find another way
There's so much more to know
I guess I'll die another day
It's not my time to go

I need to lay down

I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day

Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day

And finally this week, the first of the Daniel Craig films, along
with a song not named for the film.

CASINO ROYALE ("You Know My Name")

{("But You Lost My Phone Number")}

If you take a life, do you know what you'll give?
Odds are you won't like what it is

{Eh, it's a living.}

When the storm arrives, would you be seen with me
By the merciless eThe coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name

If you come inside things will not be the same
If you think you've won, you never saw me change
The game that we've all been playing

I've seen diamonds cut through harder men
Than you yourself
But if you must pretend

Arm yourself, because no one else here will save you
The odds will betray I've deceived?

{Not if you are gonna wear THOSE shoes.}

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights
But you yourself are nothing so divine
Just next in line

{What is a blinding height?}

Arm yourself, because no one else here will save you

{If we can see.}

The odds will betray you
And I will replace you

{I never promised you job security.}

And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die
The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name.

Forget how to feel (Forget how to feel)
Life is gone with just a spin of the wheel (Spin of the wheel)

Arm yourself, because no one else here will save you
The odds will betray you
And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die?

The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name

{No, but the face is familiar.}

[-mrl]

===================================================================

TOPIC: WORTH (film review by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)

WORTH is a film about the September 11 Victim's Compensation Fund,
and the work of Ken Feinberg in assigning compensation amounts to
the victims' families.

Every year we see films released that tell of courtroom or legal
drama. This goes back at least as far as films such as INHERIT THE
WIND (1960) AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962), and even 12 ANGRY MEN
(1957). More recently, we have seen THE VERDICT (1982), THE
LINCOLN LAWYER (2011), BERNIE (2011), LOVING (2016), DENIAL (2016),
MOLLY'S GAME (2017), ON THE BASIS OF SEX (2018), THE TRIAL OF THE
CHICAGO 7 (2020), and THE MAURITANIAN (2021). Even if we limit
this to cases involving class action suits (or possible suits)
against corporations, we have A CIVIL ACTION (1998), THE INSIDER
(1999), ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000), MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007), and DARK
WATERS (2019).

WORTH uses two very good actors in a strong and even riveting
conflict. Michael Keaton plays Ken Feinberg, chosen to head the
compensation fund and Stanley Tucci plays Charles Wolf, leader of
an advocacy group, "Fix the Fund", who feels the formulas being
proposed are neither fair nor just. Together they strive to come
to an agreement on determining damage awards from the 09/11
terrorist attacks. If they fail and a class lawsuit results, it
could destroy not only the airline industry, but the entire
economy. The whole problem comes down to a deep philosophical
issue. When forced to name a dollar amount as the worth of a human
being, how can someone actually fairly assign a monetary value on
the worth of a human?

One touch that seems unrealistic, but is not, is that Feinberg
initially thinks this will not be a difficult task. It is hard to
believe that he would not realize from the beginning the can of
worms that that he was volunteering for, but in real life he did
underestimate the emotions of this event, and has said so since
then. The film includes heartfelt stories of victims, survivors,
and their families, and may be tough watching at times in spite of
its PG-13 rating.

Released 09/03/21 on Netflix. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4), or 9/10.

[-mrl/ecl]

===================================================================

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TOPIC: (letter of comment by xx)

In response to xyzzy's comments on xyzzy in the XX/XX/21 issue of
the MT VOID, xyzzy writes:

===================================================================

TOPIC: (letter of comment by xx)

In response to xyzzy's comments on xyzzy in the XX/XX/21 issue of
the MT VOID, xyzzy writes:

===================================================================

TOPIC: (letter of comment by xx)

In response to xyzzy's comments on xyzzy in the XX/XX/21 issue of
the MT VOID, xyzzy writes:

===================================================================

Tennessee Williams is yet another writer of the fantastic not
usually recognized as such by science fiction fans (for the
extended definition of "science fiction" that includes fantasy and
horror). I suspect that he has more name recognition than Jose
Saramago or even Jorge Luis Borges, but even those who have heard
of him probably don't know about his first story, which was
published in WEIRD TALES. He wrote about eight stories that are
included in the isfdb.org, but even his other works reflect a type
of horror.

For example, consider SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER. **SPOILERS** If
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is a horror story, then certainly
this is as well. I know this only from the movie, which is an
expansion of the original one-act play, but the setting of the
ruined temple for the climax implies a connection with the
Dionysian/Bacchic cults of ancient Greece and Rome. And Sebastian
Venable's description of the evil of the world seems derived from
Manichaeism and/or gnosticism, though for horror fans there also a
hint of Lovecraftian horror in it. Violet Venable's description of
life with him as "a world of light and shadow" also seems to
reflect this duality.

And that's not even counting the real-life horrors of a mental
institution in general and a frontal lobotomy in particular. If
Val Lewton's BEDLAM is considered a horror film, then certainly
SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER is as well.

(Violet Venable is one of a long line of Williams's older women who
have at best a tenuous grasp on reality, and seem to believe that
reality is what they want it to be. Violet Venable, Big Mama,
Blanche DuBois, Amanda Wingfield, ... they all live in a fantasy
world.)

Oddly, the one story Williams had in WEIRD TALES, "The Vengeance of
Nitocris" (1928, under the byline of Thomas Lanier Williams), has
no supernatural elements. Horrific, yes, but unless one assumes
the bridge collapse that triggers the events was of supernatural
origin.

"Desire and the Black Masseur" (1948) (adapted into the short play
"Desire Quenched by Touch" also has no supernatural elements. I
suppose Williams's "speculative fiction" stories (as included in
the Internet Speculative Fiction Database) as more along the lines
of many of Stephen King's horror stories than of H. P. Lovecraft
(or of Robert E. Howard, who had the cover story of the issue of
WEIRD TALES in which "The Vengeance of Nitocris" appeared). There
are several themes that show up in Williams's other works
(including SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER), and there is what at least one
reviewer called a "Grand Guignol" quality to it. One suspects that
Williams's use of race might make this less publishable today, and
it is not clear that the story would suffer greatly were that
element removed.

"The Mysteries of the Joy Rio" (1954) is a tale of an old movie
palace which may or may not be haunted.

"The Knightly Quest" (1966) is definitely science fiction, with
someone returning home after many years away to discover his home
town has become a fascist Christian enclave, apparently with the
approval of the Federal government, which seems to have been taken
over by authoritarian thugs.

I will note that Williams's grammar is not perfect; he writes "less
than two passengers" at one point. He is also no scientist,
writing, "They're so far away now that their watches are timed by
light-years." And in case the reader misses the ambiguity, he
specifically speaks of "a ... reminder that night is a quest."

"The Knightly Quest" is a novella; the other four stories that fill
out the book THE KNIGHTLY QUEST ("Grand", Mama's Old Stucco House",
"Man Bring This Up Road", and "The Kingdom of Earth", all from
1966) are not science fiction or fantasy, though they do have that
Southern Gothic" feel.

And Williams's last (?) foray into the fantastic is "A Recluse and
His Guest" (1970), which reads very much like a fairy tale, though
closer to the "marchen" of Germany and the Brothers Grimm than to
the lighter sort more common here.

Okay, it is nowhere near the fantasy output of a Jose Saramago, or
even of a Doris Lessing (who at least acknowledged her status as a
science fiction writer), but it is worth pointing out that Williams
did not abandon the fantastic or weird when he became famous, or
wave it away as something he "had to do" at the start of his
career. [-ecl]

===================================================================

Mark Leeper
mleeper@optonline.net

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied
with the best.
--Oscar Wilde

--- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
* Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
• From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Nov 21 07:06:48 2021
THE MT VOID
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/19/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 21, Whole Number 2198

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, mleeper@optonline.net
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, eleeper@optonline.net
All material is the opinion of the author and is copyrighted by the
author unless otherwise noted.
All comments sent or posted will be assumed authorized for
inclusion unless otherwise noted.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, send mail to eleeper@optonline.net
The latest issue is at <http://www.leepers.us/mtvoid/latest.htm>.
An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at <http://leepers.us/mtvoid/back_issues.htm>.

Topics:
"Pythy" Puzzle Solution (puzzle by Tom Russell; solution
by David Goldfarb, Daniel Cox, and Evelyn C. Leeper)
Bond Songs (Part 6) (THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, DIE ANOTHER DAY,
CASINO ROYALE ("You Know My Name")) (comments
by Mark R. Leeper)
WORTH (film review by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
Gralloching (letters of comment by Kevin R, Paul Dormer,
and Tim Merrigan)
German Language Variation (letter of comment by Gary McGath)
H. G. Wells Omnibus Editions (letter of comment
by Paul Dormer
by Evelyn C. Leeper)

===================================================================

TOPIC: "Pythy" Puzzle Solution (puzzle by Tom Russell; solution
by David Goldfarb, Daniel Cox, and Evelyn C. Leeper)

Last week we gave the puzzle:

The sides of a certain right triangle are all of integer length.
The shortest side is 7. What are the other two sides? [-tlr]

This week we give the answer:

24 and 25.

The trick is realizing that the three sides are 7, x, and y, and
7^2 + x^2 = y^2. This is the same as 49 = y^2 - x^2.

But y^2 - x^2 is (y-x)(y+x), and the only factors of 49 are
1 and 49. So we want two consecutive numbers (since y-x=1) whose
sum is 49; these are 24 and 25. [-ecl]

David Goldfarb sent in a different reasoning for the same answer:

24 and 25. Since the difference between two successive squares is
always odd, and every odd number is a difference between two
squares (this is much easier to see by building successive squares geometrically than by proving algebraically), it can be shown that
every odd number x forms a Pythagorean triple with (x^2-1)/2 and
(x^2+1)/2. And no, I didn't use pencil or paper to work that out.
[-dg]

And Daniel Cox sent in:

The triangle should be 7, 24, 25. Working only in my head, I think
it's the only possibility.

This was how I reasoned, translated to equations:

I looked first for solutions to 7^2 + y^2 = z^2 with z - y = 1.

(y+1)^2 = y^2 + 2y + 1, subtract y^2 from each side and you get
(y+1)^2 - y^2 = 2y + 1.

49 = 2y + 1 gives y = 24. 7^2 + 24^2 = 49 + 576 = 625 = 25^2.

Looking for other solutions to 7^2 + y^2 = z^2 with z - y = 3 or
z - y = 5 gives no integer solutions (if I did that correctly in my
head). If z - y = 7, you get y = 0, but that's not a proper
triangle. If z-y > 7, you get no solutions in positive real
numbers, let alone integers. [-dtc]

===================================================================

TOPIC: Bond Songs (Part 6) (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

If you are just coming in on this, I am making comments on the
title songs from the Bond films.

First this week is THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH.

I know how to hurt
I know how to heal
I know what to show
And what to conceal

{My understanding is that this song was written to be
performed at a plumbers' convention as the Saturday night
entertainment.}

I know when to talk
And I know when to touch
No one ever died
From wanting too much

{My plumber came close.}

The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love

{I figure starting on the tiling over the toilet.}

People like us
Know how to survive
There's no point in living
If you can't feel alive

{It's the customer we feels the pain.}

We know when to kiss

{(and what)}

And we know when to kill,
If we can't have it all
Then nobody will

The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love

{I think we are missing about 30,000 screws from when we took
apart Canada alone. If you see some, hold onto them.}

I feel safe
I feel scared
And yet unprepared

{You don't know what you're feeling.}

The world is not enough
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love

The world is not enough
The world is not enough
Nowhere near enough
The world is not enough

Then comes DIE ANOTHER DAY.

I'm gonna wake up, yes and no

{Suit yourself.}

I'm gonna kiss some part of...

{Yeah, don't finish that thought, please.}

I'm gonna keep this secret
I'm gonna close my body now

I guess I die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I die another day

{Don't keep putting it off. And let me check my calendar.}

I guess I'll die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I'll die another day

Sigmund Freud
Analyze this
Analyze this
Analyze this...

I'm gonna break the cycle
I'm gonna shake up the system
I'm gonna destroy my ego
I'm gonna close my body now

{Would you like a cork?}
?
I think I'll find another way
There's so much more to know
I guess I'll die another day
It's not my time to go

For every sin I'll have to pay
I've come to work, I've come to play
I think I'll find another way
It's not my time to go

I'm gonna avoid the cliche
I'm gonna suspend my senses
I'm gonna delay my pleasure
I'm gonna close my body now

I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day

I think I'll find another way
There's so much more to know
I guess I'll die another day
It's not my time to go

I need to lay down

I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day
I guess I die another day
I guess I'll die another day

Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day
Another day

And finally this week, the first of the Daniel Craig films, along
with a song not named for the film.

CASINO ROYALE ("You Know My Name")

{("But Now You Lost My Phone Number")}

If you take a life, do you know what you'll give?
Odds are you won't like what it is

{Eh, it's a living.}

When the storm arrives, would you be seen with me
By the merciless eyes of deceit?

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights
But you yourself are nothing so divine
Just next in line

Arm yourself because no one else here will save you
The odds will betray you
And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you, are you willing to die?
The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name

If you come inside things will not be the same
If you think you've won, you never saw me change
The game that we've all been playing

I've seen diamonds cut through harder men
Than you yourself
But if you must pretend

Arm yourself, because no one else here will save you
The odds will betray I've deceived?

{Not if you are gonna wear THOSE shoes.}

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights
But you yourself are nothing so divine
Just next in line

{What is a blinding height?}

Arm yourself, because no one else here will save you

{If we can see.}

The odds will betray you
And I will replace you

{I never promised you job security.}

And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die
The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name.

Forget how to feel (Forget how to feel)
Life is gone with just a spin of the wheel (Spin of the wheel)

Arm yourself, because no one else here will save you
The odds will betray you
And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die?

The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name
You know my name

{No, but the face is familiar.}

[-mrl]

===================================================================

TOPIC: WORTH (film review by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)

WORTH is a film about the September 11 Victim's Compensation Fund,
and the work of Ken Feinberg in assigning compensation amounts to
the victims' families.

Every year we see films released that tell of courtroom or legal
drama. This goes back at least as far as films such as INHERIT THE
WIND (1960) AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962), and even 12 ANGRY MEN
(1957). More recently, we have seen THE VERDICT (1982), THE
LINCOLN LAWYER (2011), BERNIE (2011), LOVING (2016), DENIAL (2016),
MOLLY'S GAME (2017), ON THE BASIS OF SEX (2018), THE TRIAL OF THE
CHICAGO 7 (2020), and THE MAURITANIAN (2021). Even if we limit
this to cases involving class action suits (or possible suits)
against corporations, we have A CIVIL ACTION (1998), THE INSIDER
(1999), ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000), MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007), and DARK
WATERS (2019).

WORTH uses two very good actors in a strong and even riveting
conflict. Michael Keaton plays Ken Feinberg, chosen to head the
compensation fund and Stanley Tucci plays Charles Wolf, leader of
an advocacy group, "Fix the Fund", who feels the formulas being
proposed are neither fair nor just. Together they strive to come
to an agreement on determining damage awards from the 09/11
terrorist attacks. If they fail and a class lawsuit results, it
could destroy not only the airline industry, but the entire
economy. The whole problem comes down to a deep philosophical
issue. When forced to name a dollar amount as the worth of a human
being, how can someone actually fairly assign a monetary value on
the worth of a human?

One touch that seems unrealistic, but is not, is that Feinberg
initially thinks this will not be a difficult task. It is hard to
believe that he would not realize from the beginning the can of
worms that that he was volunteering for, but in real life he did
underestimate the emotions of this event, and has said so since
then. The film includes heartfelt stories of victims, survivors,
and their families, and may be tough watching at times in spite of
its PG-13 rating.

Released 09/03/21 on Netflix. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4), or 9/10.

Film Credits:
<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8009744/reference>

What others are saying:
<https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/worth>

[-mrl/ecl]

===================================================================

TOPIC: Gralloching (letters of comment by Kevin R, Paul Dormer, Tim
Merrigan)

In response to Evelyn's comments on "gralloching" in the 11/05/21
issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R writes:

Removing the guts from an animal, something hunters do. "Field
dressing" would be a less obscure term.

ObSF:

"You needed a tree to gralloch a deer properly. Hanging it up by
the hind legs made it drain thoroughly and it also made it easier
to gut and quarter." [<https://smstirling.com/samples/the-scourge-of-god-chapter-10/>]

I don't hunt, though I have friends that do, and the word comes up

[Also mentioned was "nithering"]

Both [words are] more common in Scots, so, perhaps, gralloch would
be more apt for a tale of Arthurian Britons than any pure Anglo-
Saxonism? Nither has off-island roots: <https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/nither>

[-kr]

Paul Dormer responds:

I would have thought a field dressing was what was applied to a
wound on the battle field, but I see it can also refer to
gralloching. [-pd]

Tim Merrigan suggests:

Both work, depending on the definition of "dressing" one is using.

Wouldn't want to confuse them though. While a shot deer might
appreciate an EMT's field dressing, I very much doubt a wounded
soldier (with the possible exception of a Sontaran) would like a
hunter's field dressing. [-tm]

===================================================================

TOPIC: German Language Variation (letter of comment by Gary McGath)

In response to Fred Lerner's comments on variation in Middle
English in the 11/12/21 issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

The German states (a.k.a. the Holy Roman Empire) were a patchwork
of dialects until recent times, and many dialects persist today.
The standardization of High German was heavily driven by Luther's
translation of the Bible. It's based largely on the southern
dialects, and Low German is still prevalent in much of the North as
a spoken language. The term "High German" reflects the higher
altitude of the southern regions as much as its claim to cultural
superiority. [-gmg]

===================================================================

TOPIC: H. G. Wells Omnibus Editions (letter of comment by Paul
Dormer)

In response to Evelyn's comments on H. G. Wells in the 11/12/21
issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

I have those seven books in an omnibus from an imprint called
Heinemann Octopus. (Also have a companion edition of Kafka.)
[-pd]

===================================================================

Tennessee Williams is yet another writer of the fantastic not
usually recognized as such by science fiction fans (for the
extended definition of "science fiction" that includes fantasy and
horror). I suspect that he has more name recognition than Jose
Saramago or even Jorge Luis Borges, but even those who have heard
of him probably don't know about his first story, which was
published in WEIRD TALES. He wrote about eight stories that are
included in the isfdb.org, but even his other works reflect a type
of horror.

For example, consider SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER. **SPOILERS** If
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is a horror story, then certainly
this is as well. I know this only from the movie, which is an
expansion of the original one-act play, but the setting of the
ruined temple for the climax implies a connection with the
Dionysian/Bacchic cults of ancient Greece and Rome. And Sebastian
Venable's description of the evil of the world seems derived from
Manichaeism and/or gnosticism, though for horror fans there also a
hint of Lovecraftian horror in it. Violet Venable's description of
life with him as "a world of light and shadow" also seems to
reflect this duality.

And that's not even counting the real-life horrors of a mental
institution in general and a frontal lobotomy in particular. If
Val Lewton's BEDLAM is considered a horror film, then certainly
SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER is as well.

(Violet Venable is one of a long line of Williams's older women who
have at best a tenuous grasp on reality, and seem to believe that
reality is what they want it to be. Violet Venable, Big Mama,
Blanche DuBois, Amanda Wingfield, ... they all live in a fantasy
world.)

Oddly, the one story Williams had in WEIRD TALES, "The Vengeance of
Nitocris" (1928, under the byline of Thomas Lanier Williams), has
no supernatural elements. Horrific, yes, but unless one assumes
the bridge collapse that triggers the events was of supernatural
origin.

"Desire and the Black Masseur" (1948) (adapted into the short play
"Desire Quenched by Touch" also has no supernatural elements. I
suppose Williams's "speculative fiction" stories (as included in
the Internet Speculative Fiction Database) as more along the lines
of many of Stephen King's horror stories than of H. P. Lovecraft
(or of Robert E. Howard, who had the cover story of the issue of
WEIRD TALES in which "The Vengeance of Nitocris" appeared). There
are several themes that show up in Williams's other works
(including SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER), and there is what at least one
reviewer called a "Grand Guignol" quality to it. One suspects that
Williams's use of race might make this less publishable today, and
it is not clear that the story would suffer greatly were that
element removed.

"The Mysteries of the Joy Rio" (1954) is a tale of an old movie
palace which may or may not be haunted.

"The Knightly Quest" (1966) is definitely science fiction, with
someone returning home after many years away to discover his home
town has become a fascist Christian enclave, apparently with the
approval of the Federal government, which seems to have been taken
over by authoritarian thugs.

I will note that Williams's grammar is not perfect; he writes "less
than two passengers" at one point. He is also no scientist,
writing, "They're so far away now that their watches are timed by
light-years." And in case the reader misses the ambiguity, he
specifically speaks of "a ... reminder that night is a quest."

"The Knightly Quest" is a novella; the other four stories that fill
out the book THE KNIGHTLY QUEST ("Grand", Mama's Old Stucco House",
"Man Bring This Up Road", and "The Kingdom of Earth", all from
1966) are not science fiction or fantasy, though they do have that
Southern Gothic" feel.

And Williams's last (?) foray into the fantastic is "A Recluse and
His Guest" (1970), which reads very much like a fairy tale, though
closer to the "marchen" of Germany and the Brothers Grimm than to
the lighter sort more common here.

Okay, it is nowhere near the fantasy output of a Jose Saramago, or
even of a Doris Lessing (who at least acknowledged her status as a
science fiction writer), but it is worth pointing out that Williams
did not abandon the fantastic or weird when he became famous, or
wave it away as something he "had to do" at the start of his
career. [-ecl]

===================================================================

Mark Leeper
mleeper@optonline.net

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied
with the best.
--Oscar Wilde

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